Lily everywhere

It’s been a busy few weeks in the Malone household, and this is going to be one busy weekend! Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend in eastern Australia (not here in WA where I’ve now moved. No holiday for us but we had ‘WA Day’ last weekend and a Monday off work.)

I have way too much news at the moment and way too much to say, which isn’t unusual for me. In no particular order, here’s a little list of what’s going on for me, and for my characters:

  • WordPress sent me a little note yesterday that it was one year since I opened the account to start this blog. My first post was on June 12, 2012. It was called “Hello world” and if you’d like to see what was in my brain when I started blogging, take a look here. Next week I think I’ll have to have a recap of what’s happened for me in 12 months!
  • My second  published work, The Goodbye Ride novella is set on the Queen’s Birthday Holiday Long Weekend in the Adelaide Hills in the tourist mecca of the town that is Hahndorf. This means, in real time, this morning Olivia and Owen are currently steaming up the vine rows of Owen’s aunt’s vineyard.
  • Later this weekend, I’m a guest at the website www.justcontemporaryromance.com where I’m writing about the pieces of ourselves that we share in our books. The idea came from a post and discussion at Cate Ellink’s website recently, after author of The Yearning, Kate Belle, was asked whether the sex scenes in her novel were based on her own experiences. (I am sure erotica authors want to slap  interviewers who ask that question!)
  • Escape Publishing’s managing editor, Kate Cuthbert, sent me a lovely note during the week with an introduction to another West Aussie author, Eliza Redgold (author of Black Diamonds) to invite Eliza and I to write an article about how we use wine and food as inspiration for our books. This is for the Escape blog, sometime soon. (As soon as we can finish it!).
  • It’s pruning time in the vineyards. My favourite time of the year. I went for a walk yesterday on a track that goes past some of the Margaret River vineyards. They’re almost bare – all straggling and crazy trailing canes just crying out for a good haircut. Very few leaves remain and those that do are golden, so close to falling. Another few weeks here and the pruning gangs and mechanical machines will be out in force.

And meantime, The Goodbye Ride and His Brand Of Beautiful keep on keeping on. The Goodbye Ride is hovering between the 20,000 and 40,000 mark on Kindle Paid on Amazon, and His Brand Of Beautiful seems to be getting a little sales spike to, under the 100,000 this morning. Both books have had some lovely reviews and I feel like the luckiest woman in the world, doing what I do.

Life is good.

Reading In Real Time – Monday

Visiting for The Romance Reviews November splash? Big welcome! You’ll find the answer here. Like me on Facebook to keep up with news of my new book, Fairway To Heaven (it’s almost finished!) I’m on Twitter too @lily_lilymalone

If you’re in the mood for winning books – please shoot me an email to lilymalone@mail.com because everyone who visits my blog as part of The Romance Reviews November ‘splash’ can get a free e-copy of my novella, The Goodbye Ride (17 reviews on Amazon, 4 or 5 star). Just send me an email with ‘Splash’ in the subject line. Happy ‘splash’ month!

If you’ve read my last few posts, you’ll know that His Brand Of Beautiful began with a meeting of Tate Newell and Christina Clay on May 24; then a wedding on Saturday June 1. Yesterday, my H&H flew north to Binara, Tate’s family’s cattle station and today, Christina wakes to find herself deep in the South Australian outback with the prospect of a horse-riding station adventure in the days to come.

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‘Binara’ is a fictional cattle station located east of the Oodnadatta Track, south of the Northern Territory border and west of very beginnings of the Simpson Desert. I modelled it loosely on Todmarden Cattle Station in South Australia’s vast arid north.

Hubby and I travelled through this area in 1999, during our Around Oz trip. We camped for a week down the length of the Oodnadatta Track, making a few forays inland off the track, along the way. I remember the wedge-tailed eagles; the different browns and golds of the landscape back then, all with the backdrop of red rock and sand. It must be so different now. Flooding rains through central Australia have filled Lake Eyre in recent seasons, sparking a whole inland sea ecosystem up there and an ocean of green.

For my ‘Reading in Real Time’ post today, here’s an excerpt from the start of their horse-riding sojourn.

“You’ll hold him steady, won’t you, Tate?” Christina had one boot wedged in the near stirrup. The other hopped on the mounting block at the side of a honey-coloured horse.

“He’s a ‘her’, a mare,” Tate said. She could hear the smile in his voice.

“You’ll be okay, Christina,” Shasta called from the verandah where he and Bree had stopped to see them off. “Sunshine is about as scary as a rocking-chair and even more comfy.”

“I’ll remember you said that.” Grabbing a handful of white mane in her left hand, Christina got ready to impersonate a flying sack of potatoes.

Then adrenalin alone almost propelled her into the saddle.

Tate’s palm cushioned the plumpest part of her left thigh. She felt each finger outlined through the thin skin of the borrowed jodhpurs, five rods of warmth, the longest two trespassed onto the swell of her bottom.

“On three okay?” Tate said. “One. Two.” She felt his muscles bunch. “Three.”

Please God, don’t let the pants split.

The earth moved. There was a chestnut gelding tied on a lead rope to the back of Sunshine’s saddle and Christina narrowly avoided collecting its nose with her boot. She landed across the mare’s back, straightened then tugged at the teal-coloured shirt that had got caught beneath her.

Her left boot slipped from the stirrup.

“This side has to go up too, mate,” Shasta called.

Tate tightened the stirrup leather on the near side, the broad brim of his hat floating near her hip. He cupped his hand around her calf and helped slot her boot into the stirrup to check its length. She hoped Shasta and Bree and anyone else watching would mark the pink stain in her cheeks to excitement over the ride ahead and nothing to do with the way Tate’s fingers made her pulse fly.

Sunshine shifted weight. Tate walked around the mare and Christina felt his fingers close around her right calf. He moved her leg out of his way, hauled the leathers higher then slid her foot back into the stirrup.

“How’s that feel?”

Fantastic. “Fine.”

“Here.” He passed up a helmet. Their fingers touched. “Do you need help with it?”

The thought of his knuckles brushing her throat made her squeeze the saddle between her thighs. Sunshine’s ears twitched.

Christina cleared her throat. “Thanks. I’ll manage.” She clicked the catch into place and picked up the reins.

“Heels down, Christina,” Bree encouraged from the second step. “Hands down, too. And keep your hands together. Good. That’s better.”

“Hey. No coaching,” Shasta said.

Shasta, Bree and Tate have made a bet that Christina will last two hours tops on this horse-ride before an aching butt and the dust and flies have her pleading with Tate to return to the station. But this city girl has a few tricks up her sleeve.
To read more of His Brand Of Beautiful and to buy the book, please visit the publisher, Escape Publishing.
It’s been fun re-visiting His Brand Of Beautiful in real time… My new novella, The Goodbye Ride also opens this week. On the East Coast of Australia, this coming weekend is the Queen’s Birthday holiday long weekend – the time and setting for The Goodbye Ride. So I will have more ‘reading in real time’ for you later in the week.

Reading in Real Time – Saturday

I’m having fun with my ‘reading in real time’ meme this week for both my books, His Brand Of Beautiful and The Goodbye Ride. Both begin with events in late May/early June. 978085799030311.jpg

Today is the first Saturday in June, and that’s the day of Lacy and Michael’s wedding in His Brand Of Beautiful. Lacy is my heroine Christina’s, best friend, and Michael is Christina’s brother. It was at Lacy’s Hen’s Night where Christina first laid eyes on my hero, the very wonderful branding strategist, Tate. (You can see an excerpt from that opening scene in the previous post on my blog). Since that explosive encounter, Tate and Christina have defiantly tried to avoid being the first person “to call” the other. Fed-up with all this dallying about, Lacy plays matchmaker and invites Tate to her wedding.

The wedding scene is one of my favourites in the book because it gave me opportunity to trap my hero and heroine together for a few hours as wedding guests and make them talk. Did I mention I like writing dialogue?

Christina doesn’t like weddings. Prior to this excerpt beginning, she has just sat through a conversation with a sympathetic Aunt who believes she’s been stood-up because Tate is running late. Then she runs into a smarmy Politician ex-boyfriend who remains a friend of the family and delights in knowing Christina’s business.

I hope you enjoy this extract.

Near the stage, the three-piece band—shiny shoed, Beatles’ haircuts—began two, one-two sound-checks and strummed guitars. Waiters moved through the tables, collecting plates, pouring wine. The room hummed with conversations far more conventional than her own.

“How did you break your nose?” It was the first thing that popped into her head that wasn’t please take me home.

He looked away. “A horse bucked me into a fence post when I was fifteen.”

“What did you do to piss it off?”

“It wasn’t what I did. It was the five-foot King Brown who didn’t like hooves.”

She shuddered, no fan of snakes, and asked the second question that popped into her head. “Do you have children?”

“No.”

“But you want kids?”

“What is this? Twenty questions?” He swished swordfish in coriander and lime sauce, but the light in his eyes softened the answer: “One day, sure. You?”

For a simple syllable, the question stung. “I hope so, one day. Yes.”

She waited until he brought his fork to his mouth. “So how come you’re still single?”

He almost choked. “Jesus. Don’t we have weeks to sort all this stuff out?”

“I’m too old for small-talk. If you have huge spooky skeletons in your closet, I’d rather just know.”

He reached for a bottle of Handcrafted Sauvignon Blanc and tilted it towards her. She put her hand over her glass. “I’m running tomorrow.”

“Running?”

“Don’t say it like that. Running. Jogging. Millions of people do it every day.”

“You don’t mention running on your blog.”

She raised an eyebrow. “You’ve done your homework. Lacy has me on a fourteen-week training plan. She’s like a greyhound, I take about three steps to her one. There’s a breast cancer fundraiser being held with the City to Bay in August. We’re raising money for that.”

He paused with the fork halfway to his mouth. “You get on well with your sister-in-law, why aren’t you bridesmaid?”

She tore her gaze from his lips. “Me? God, no. I hate weddings.”

“You don’t want to get married?” His eyes crinkled with amusement.

“Aren’t we supposed to spend weeks sorting all this stuff out?”

“Touché.” He downed the fish, eyed her beef. “Aren’t you hungry?”

“I ate your entree.”

He swapped his empty plate for her steak. Ice chinked as he filled two water glasses. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I wouldn’t have picked you for the type of woman who goes running.”

“A little less padding wouldn’t hurt.”

“Your view. Not mine.” His gaze dipped to her collarbone, grazed the cleft between her breasts. If Abraham Lewis MP had looked at her like that she would have kicked his shin.

“Lacy said the endorphins will hit me at some stage and I’ll start to crave the exercise but I don’t think that happens until about week ten.”

“And what week is this?”

“Week two. Stop laughing!” She kicked his shin.

The microphone burped. Lacy’s father, red-faced and stiff, tapped it. Christina groaned and sliced her finger across her neck.

“Let me guess. You don’t like speeches?”

“I hate wedding speeches.”

Someone hushed them then like they were noisy spectators at a tennis match.

 

There are reasons why Christina doesn’t like weddings, and hates wedding speeches. My sister hates wedding speeches. You can almost count on the fact that once the speeches start, you won’t find her anywhere in the room. What about you? I will admit to being a Twilight fan, but the wedding speech scene in Breaking Dawn Part I has to be the worst wedding scene I’ve ever watched (let’s face it, the entire movie wasn’t much better) 🙂

If you’d like to read more of my debut novel, His Brand Of Beautiful, or buy the book please click here.

In The Middle Of The Week That Was

Do you remember the day you first laid eyes on the love of your life? For Tate Newell and Christina Clay, hero & heroine of my debut book with Escape Publishing His Brand Of Beautiful, it was this week.

Actually, it was last Friday, May 24th. It was supposed to be this Friday, May 31st. And because Christina mucked the dates up in her diary, all hell broke loose.

If she looks back now, I don’t think she’d mind the consequences.978085799030311.jpg

It might surprise you to know that I am really not a winter girl. I love summer. I love the heat. I even like humidity, and one day, I’d love to have a tropical garden in which to potter. But for now, both my novels have been set in a Southern Hemisphere winter. His Brand Of Beautiful in May; and The Goodbye Ride novella is set over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June. (Which by the way, happens to be Saturday week in Australia – June 8, 9 and 10).

So you can read both my stories in ‘real time’ if you’d like to, over the next couple of weeks.

But this week is about Christina & Tate.

Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter of His Brand Of Beautiful. Christina is hosting her sister-in-law’s Hen’s Party and she’s waiting for the evening’s entertainment (the stripper) to show up. When he does, he isn’t being particularly enthusiastic about getting the party started.

 

His Brand Of Beautiful 

“Miss Clay, there’s been a mistake.”

“I beg your pardon?” She smoked him with her best glare. No way was he wriggling out of this now, she’d paid her deposit.

“Do I really look like a stripper to you?”

“Actually, yes. We ordered the Billionaire Businessman.” She crossed her arms over her chest and a caterpillar-row of bracelets clanked on her wrist.

He held her gaze for a long moment, slipped a hand in his shirt pocket — a beautiful blue Italian silk a shade brighter than his eyes — and extracted his business card. “Christina, I’m Tate Newell. Outback Brands. Tate, not Nate, I thought I misheard you earlier. We have an appointment.”

Something rolled in the pit of her stomach. “Yes we do. Next Friday.”

He fished in his suit pocket, found his mobile and scrolled. “Here. Christina Clay. 5.30pm, May 24. Initial consultation re: Clay Wines’ brand.” He held up the screen. “I thought those balloons on the gate were your idea of a joke.”

“A joke?”

The corner of his lip curved. “I thought you were celebrating that you’d finally got me out here, Christina. That the five hundred phone calls worked.”

Two thoughts flashed through her mind: Dear God. This party’s going to hell in a handbasket and Dear God. My new brand. What she said was: “It wasn’t five hundred.”

With that, her brain started working again, only it couldn’t decide whether the best thing she should do was say shit or sorry and it was still trying to work that out when a voice hollered from the kitchen: “Don’t start without us, CC.”

“Just a minute,” Christina yelled back down the hall and her hand shot to her temple. “Shit.”

Tate chuckled.

Her gaze snapped to the suit-clad body making her hall feel small.

Male.

On the premises.

It was a short list.

“Blind Freddie could see what you’re thinking. N.O.” He shoved his briefcase into his opposite hand and leaned his weight toward the door.

“Wait! Tate? Please? I’m trying to think outside the square here. Could you help a girl out?”

“You’re not thinking outside the square. You’re outside the damn hemisphere.”

“You don’t have to get your clothes off. It’s just a paint party. It’s my step-mother’s idea—she lent me all the stuff. There’s just an itty-bitty room full of easels and amateur painters, very low key. You’re a graphic art guru. I bet you’re a dab hand with a paint brush.” The words tumbled from her lips.

“CC! While we’re young, hey?” Marlene’s voice foghorned up the hall and Christina knew she wouldn’t sip champagne and wait. Marlene would come and investigate.

There was an echo of cheers. The girls getting restless.

“Please? It’s my best friend’s Hen’s Night. It’s the only one she’ll ever get.” She ignored the small voice in her head that wanted to add: I hope.

Tate exhaled. “I can’t believe you’re playing the guilt card.”

“You should feel guilty. I’ve been trying to meet with you since February. Every time I called, your receptionist fobbed me off. I don’t think you want my business at all.” She stabbed her finger at his chest. It felt good to be on the offensive. “If you hadn’t been avoiding me, we would have had this appointment weeks ago—months ago—and no way could it have got mixed up with tonight.”

His Adam’s apple bobbed in his throat. “You can’t keep a diary straight and that’s my fault?”

She stomped hard on her temper. Tonight, as everybody kept saying, wasn’t about her, and if Tate Newell walked out she was up the creek, sans paddle, in more ways than one. She could kiss Lacy’s party and her new wine brand goodbye, because right now the odds of a follow-up appointment with Tate were slim.

“Ready or not, CC, I’m counting to ten…” Marlene’s voice boomed up the corridor.

How far Christina is prepared to go to get Tate to fill-in for the no-show Stripper takes up much of Chapter 1, and in Chapter 2, things get steamy. If you’d like to read more about His Brand Of Beautiful, you can browse the book and buy it by clicking here.
And if you do remember when you first laid eyes on Mr Right… feel free to share in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

 

What can a Beta Reading service offer you?

I first met my wonderful Beta Reader, Marion, when His Brand Of Beautiful, published by Escape Publishing, was released in March 2013. At the time, I approached Marion (who reviews for the US website, Ravishing Romances, as Musing Maddie) to review His Brand Of Beautiful for me.

That review sparked one of those ‘online’ friendships you sometimes get where two people just click. One of the most interesting things is, Marion didn’t 4 or 5-star rate my book. She gave it 3 stars and a very honest, tactful review that included the things she loved about my book, and what she felt I needed to “unpack” more. I continue to love that phrase!

I remember Marion saying in an email to me after the review that she hoped her review hadn’t “discouraged” me. Why would it? 3 stars meant she liked it. Her review included this section:

“From the outset, their interactions were snarky, heated and volatile. Their attraction 978085799030311.jpg– instantaneous and sizzling. His Brand of Beautiful had a little bit of drama, witty humor and entertaining interaction between characters. Lily Malone’s descriptive prose was enchanting.”

How could any debut author not take positives out of a review like that?

Marion and I became Facebook friends and she offered at the time to Beta Read for me at a later date and I’ve just taken that offer up with my new novella, The Goodbye Ride. This time I’m self-publishing, mostly because my book is set over the June Queen’s Birthday long weekend and it seemed a shame to miss the opportunity to publish it in time for May/June.

The way I see it, there is a step between Critique Partner and book Publisher/Editor – and Marion’s Beta Reading & Proof Reading services sit right in that pocket. If you’re self-publishing, the opportunity for your book to be seen through such qualified eyes is gold.

Marion says:

“In the past, authors turned to editors at publishing houses and fellow authors for storyline advice. The self-publishing generation realises the value of cutting out the middle-man and hearing directly from the readers.  I’m an avid reader and I know there’s nothing more frustrating than stumbling over errors that detract from a story. It’s very easy to miss simple spelling errors, punctuation or timeline errors when you’re familiar with your own writing.

“I like books with meat, that are not completely predictable and that keep their readers invested. I’m not good at accepting mediocre, so I challenge authors to dig a little deeper. I take time to consider what an author needs from me to help them create the best they’re capable of creating.”

I would add right here: Editors/Publishers read and reject a lot of books and read and accept a fair share too. Generally in this day and age, I think it’s fair to say Publishers/Editors don’t have a lot of time to spend tweaking a manuscript so it’s important it is in the best place it can be when you either provide it to a publisher, or self-publish it. I’ve been impatient before, and I’ve learned the hard way that impatience prior to making submissions isn’t a good mix! Note to self, Lily Malone, DO send your manuscript to Critique Partners/Beta Readers first!

Marion says:

“A Beta reader can provide the author with feedback such as strengths and weaknesses, timeline, character and plot inconsistencies, whether any laws of physics were broken, and whether or not they liked the story. Which scenes did they love? Did they laugh, cry, sigh etc. Was the story believable and was it credible.

“A proof reader can go a step further providing light copy-edits, and highlight text that might require re-phrasing, deletion or inclusion. Often, as authors become familiar with their work, it is easy to fall in love with a scene, thus becoming blind to its shortcomings. A proof reader can lend the scene a new set of eyes and give options for the author to consider, if it is not working in their eyes.”

In her Beta reading of The Goodbye Ride, Marion gave me what I like to term, “a lightbulb moment’. I like writing dialogue and while people tend to say that dialogue is one of my strengths, I can also be guilty of ‘telling’ my story through dialogue.

Cover design by Wendy Johnston of Bright Eyed Owl.
Cover design by Wendy Johnston of Bright Eyed Owl.

To illustrate, let me show you the version Marion read as Beta Reader, with where this scene is now.

Scene 1: (and the ‘chunk’ he refers to is a chunk of hair, for your context). The comments in bold are Marion’s.

Owen moved closer, trapping Liv between his big body and the Hyundai’s back wheel. “This damn chunk falls across your eye all the time. I can’t look at it without wanting to do…this.” He picked it up, tucked it behind her ear, and turned her insides into butterfly jelly.

“We’re going out tonight.” Owen scorched a kiss across her temple, so that it felt like a circle of flame branded her skin. “I’ll see you at your place about seven.”

“Where are we going?” I was expecting a ‘she breathed’

“It’s a surprise.”

She could feel pink flushing up her throat. “Do I need riding leathers?”

“Wear them if you want, but we’re not going riding tonight.” His mouth feathered from her temple, down her jaw, each breath hot with promise.

Liv shivered. “I never really liked surprises.”

“You’ll love this one.” I haven’t read the next bit to this yet, but what is happening for Liv at this point? What is her response to his proclamation of a surprise? I don’t know if it really matters, but you want to avoid letting the dialogue do all the talking if that makes sense. 

Did it make sense? I thought dialogue was showing not telling… but when Marion picked this particular point up a few more times in the manuscript, that’s when it clicked. I also kept remembering that keyword from her review of His Brand Of Beautiful. ‘Unpack more’. So here is this scene now. No doubt about it, when Lily Malone unpacks… she shakes out the whole dang suitcase!

Revised scene: 

Owen moved closer and Liv lost sight of his aunt’s retreating back and the camellia trees flanking the front steps. She couldn’t see anything but the solid wall of his chest and the mesmerising rise of his hand as he lifted it toward her face. “How can I think about transfer papers when this damn chunk of hair falls across your eye like that? How can I look at it without wanting to do…this.”

He tucked the stray hairs behind her ear. Roughened fingertips skimmed her earlobe, caressed the skin of her neck, and Liv felt all the breath squeeze from her lungs. Could Owen feel her pulse? Surely he could hear it?

“How should we celebrate all our hard work, Liv?”

“I don’t care,” she said. And she didn’t. Anywhere with him was fine.

“Should I surprise you?”

Liv had three pairs of jeans in her wardrobe, including the pair she now wore. She hoped he wasn’t thinking of anywhere too ritzy. “I never really liked surprises.”

Owen’s eyebrows arched. “You’ll ride the flying fox in the school playground but you don’t like surprises?”

“At least give me a clue about what to wear. I can hardly drag out the party heels if we’re riding the bike again.” That’s if I owned party heels.

“You’d look good in anything,” Owen said, banishing all thought of footwear from her brain as his mouth brushed her temple. “You’d look incredible in nothing.”

The husky promise in his voice—his hot breath on her skin—it turned her knees to jelly.

Owen breathed her scent, his nose in her hair. He nibbled a path around her ear. A shudder racked her body and she surrendered to the delicious things he was doing with his lips. Liv closed her eyes, slid her hands up his bare arms, great arms, shaping the muscles she felt there, loving the underlying strength.

It took a raucous whistle from the house to break through Liv’s trance.

“Bloody Mark,” Owen muttered against her jaw, lifting his head.

She took the chance to sidle sideways and hook her fingers under the door handle, her face flushed from a hot mix of embarrassment and desire. Owen held the door for her while she settled behind the wheel, glad to be sitting so he wouldn’t see her legs shake.

“Drag out the party heels if you like, Lovely. We’re not going riding tonight,” he said, big fingers splayed loosely against the window. “Tonight I want to end up somewhere with you that’s much more comfortable than the back of a bike.”

Another up and coming Aussie author, who is a great proponent for self-publishing and for self-promotion is the author of A Beautiful Struggle, A Beautiful Forever (with a new book, Alter, about to be published) Lilliana Anderson.

Lilliana also has Marion on her team of Beta readers, and this is her take on what Marion can provide:Lilliana

“I need someone to pull apart my work and ask lots of questions. While it’s great having someone take a look at it and shout ‘Yay! Awesome!’ it’s not really conducive to the type of work I am trying to put out there. Some may have been happy with me releasing the book on the first draft and I’m not happy enough with that. That’s why I need Marion! I NEED her.”

Marion has now made her services more ‘official’ and has set up a new website with more information. She says her aim is: To provide authors with an affordable proof or beta reading service, which helps produce a clean manuscript, enabling readers to remain engrossed in the story – rather than distracted by avoidable editing blips. I offer kind, honest comments laced with good humor and integrity.”

While she can tailor her services to each author, she identifies three levels of service:

  • Developmental Editing
  • Beta Read with in-manuscript commentary
  • Beta Reading

If you’re interested, please visit her website www.makingmanuscripts.com

Now get ready Marion. You have one final read of The Goodbye Ride to get through!

Blurb-o-mania

One of the search terms that pops up most often in my stats is ‘back cover blurbs’. They can be hell to write. I swear, the less words you have to describe your book the harder it gets. I’ve yet to see an author shout loud and proud that she/he loves writing a synopsis. I don’t remember reading about anyone enjoying writing blurbs… and some editors/publishers or contest organisers have the cheek to ask you to tell them what your book is about in one line. One line. Aye Karumba!

Cover design by Wendy Johnston of Bright Eyed Owl.
Cover design by Wendy Johnston of Bright Eyed Owl.

This is why twitter is not for me. 140 characters? You’re kidding!

So far, I’ve written one blurb, for my debut novel, His Brand of Beautiful. The gurus at Escape Publishing left it unchanged, so I have to trust they felt it fit the bill.

Here is my blurb for my new release, The Goodbye Ride, a contemporary romance novella due out later this month.

I’d love to hear if you think this blurb does the job. Would you be enticed to click ‘buy’?

The Goodbye Ride

Olivia Murphy is a woman on a mission. Gracing the front lawn of a house in her Adelaide Hills hometown sits the vintage Ducati motorbike that once belonged to her brother.

Liv wants to buy the precious bike and bring it back into her family, and she wants to seal the deal before tourists descend on her town for the upcoming holiday weekend. Tourists with far fatter wallets.

One person stands in her way.

Owen Carson likes rare and beautiful things and he’s got the Ducati in his sights. Until he meets Liv, and finds himself intrigued by beauty of a far different kind.

The Goodbye Ride is a story about a boy with a secret; a bike with a past; and what happens when they all get together on a birthday weekend. (The Queen’s, no less).

By the way: Do you share my dislike of the word ‘blurb’? We slave over these things. I’m sure there should be a far fancier term to sum up 150 words (or so) of blood, sweat and tears!

Left Field With Lily: Lilliana Anderson

Lilliana Anderson self-published two books in what she’s called, The Beautiful series. A Beautiful Struggle and A Beautiful Forever. A Beautiful Forever is her current release and she’s head down, backside up, on a new novel, Alter, due out next month.Lilliana

Lilliana and I clicked from the start. How can you not click when two people called Lily and Lilliana each release books with ‘beautiful’ in the title in the same launch month?

When I first ‘met’ Lilliana, A Beautiful Forever was ranking in the double digits for sales on Kindle, and it’s still sitting in the top 50 in the category ‘Coming Of Age’. Consider me uber-impressed! Did I mention she is a mum to four (yes, four) and wife?
Make that: Super-uber-impressed!

She is a fun personality who promotes author-love and ethics within self-publishing wherever she goes. Plus she is the first person I can turn to when I have a Facebook question, such as: How do you get a heart symbol? Answer < and the 3.

In short. Lilliana inspires me and it’s wonderful to have her as my guest today on my infrequent interview post: Left Field With Lily.

LM: Would you please share with us the opening paragraph of your current book or WIP, in at least two stages? 

First draft:

I’m standing in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney, training one of my regular clients when I look up and see her, her movement is unmistakable. The two years I spent trying to get over her just fell away and I’m taken right back to where I was, wanting her, wishing I could touch her. There’s a pain in my chest when she looks at me and I see the recognition dawn on her.

Final version

Encouraging the sweaty, grunting man in front of me to tuck his knees closer to his chest as he does mountain climbers, I distractedly scan the people and the scenery in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, as I do every time I bring a client here.

LM: What is your greatest ‘lightbulb moment’ in terms of Writing Craft. 

LA: I had a big problem with show vs tell. I didn’t quite understand what it was I was doing wrong. Eventually one of my beta readers highlighted a section in the draft for this book and said – ‘Look! Right here. You’re telling me this – I want to see it’ and then it clicked. Hopefully I have the hang of it a bit better now!

LM: What keeps you awake at night?

LA: My three year old! LOL.

LM: If you could choose three items on the list below to take for a week camping in the Australian outback, which three would you pick? (You can assume there are magical batteries for anything requiring power).

  • ipod
  • kindle
  • your favourite paperback
  • your significant other
  • I will take my chances on there being a gorgeous girl, or gorgeous man (whichever the case may be) to help me pitch my tent
  • food I don’t have to catch first
  • wine
  • battery-powered Nespresso & endless supply of Pods (and George Clooney – no, that’s cheating – no George)
  • a torch in case the candles go out
  • moisturiser/cosmetics/hairbrush
  • change of clothes
  • mobile phone/internet connection for twitter & FB (definitely my mobile, because it has music, books, facebook, email, twitter – everything I’d want to stay entertained and connected)

LM: So food, wine & communication. You might be a bit ON the nose, but you’ll be IN the know… (baaad joke).

LM: My book (released in March with Escape Publishing) is called His Brand Of Beautiful. Can you tell me what you would describe as ‘your brand of beautiful’ – in terms of your current partner? 

LA: He’s actually sitting right next to me – so I’d better make this good in case he looks over! One thing I find beautiful about my husband is his thoughtfulness. He works in hospitality, and every Sunday he finishes work early and stops off at my favourite coffee shop to bring me a coffee so we can sit and talk for the afternoon.

A lot of the time he produces a piece of paper for me to read. He cuts out articles from the paper that I might like and sometimes he has an idea for a future book that he writes down for me.

For my birthday, he filled a book with story ideas for me to show me how supportive he was of my work.

So that’s what I find beautiful, he doesn’t do grand gestures, because he knows I don’t want that – it’s the little thoughtful things that really matter for me and keep me smiling.

LM: Awww…. he sounds wonderful!

booktitleLM: Can you tell me the best thing about A Beautiful Forever? Who would absolutely love it?

LA: Originally I wanted to call this book A Beautiful Redemption (I came across another book with the same name so I changed it) because Elliot, who is the character that I carried over from A Beautiful Struggle, really redeems himself in this one.

We see him come into his own in this book and fight for what he really wants.

Everyone who loved Elliot in A Beautiful Struggle will love this book and so will anyone who loves a good romance about a couple who won’t let anything get in their way. I wrote this book so it could be read on its own, you don’t have to have read the first book to enjoy this one.

LM: Can you share your favourite 250 words from A Beautiful Forever and tell us why they’re your favourite part?

LA: I have a couple of parts that I’d love to share, but they’d really ruin the story line. This is the ‘safest’ of my favourite parts in Elliot and Paige’s story. They are at a bed and breakfast on their last weekend together before Elliot has to fly back to Australia.

A Beautiful Forever is written in a dual point of view – this section is in Paige’s voice.

“I just want you to know that I’ve never been happier than when I’m with you. I want you to know that I – ”

“Don’t Elliot,” I say quickly, cutting him off. “Don’t say anything to make this harder. I’m staying and you’re going. Please don’t try and change that.”

“It doesn’t have to end when I go Paige, you could come with me – or I could come back – or you could come with me and then we both come back,” he argues regardless. “Don’t end this Paige, you know how I feel about you, even if you don’t want to hear it, and I’m pretty sure you feel the same way about me. We can do this Paige; we can do this anywhere you want, any country you want. I just want you.”

Tears are threatening to spill from my eyes as I pull my robe back over my shoulders and close it tightly around me. “Elliot, you can do so much better than me. Why are you pushing this?”

“Because I love you damn it!” he yells suddenly, his outburst scaring the shit out of me as he jumps off the bed and starts to pace the room. I sit there, trying not to cry as I watch him work through his emotions. When he stops and looks at me his eyes are shining as well. “Why won’t you tell me what makes you so sad? Why don’t you trust me enough to love you no matter what you may have done?”

If you’d like to find out more about Lilliana and her books, it’s easy.

Visit her website and blog

Find her on facebook or Goodreads or Twitter

Buy A Beautiful Forever at Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Kobo

A Beautiful Forever comes with a Mature Content Warning.

After ruining the best relationship he has ever had, Elliot’s life takes a turn for the worse and he isn’t happy with who he’s become.

Deciding to spend three months in the UK on a working visa, in a bid to find himself again, he boards a plane to London. During the flight he meets Paige, a fellow Aussie with a closed heart and a lot to hide.

The closer he gets to Paige the more he’s sure that she’s hiding something. Will it be enough to send him running? Or does he love her enough to fight this time?

This is Elliot’s story after A Beautiful Struggle, it can be read on it own but Lilliana says you will have better understanding of Elliot’s character if you meet him in book one first.